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Death Grips’ abrasive sound mastered on ‘No Love Deep Web’

By Charles Louis Dominguez ’14
THE ROUNDUP

Death Grips – No Love Deep Web

7.5 out of 10

Death Grips are so punk rock.

On the morning of Sept. 30, the Sacramento-based act announced that they would be self-releasing their latest project, “No Love Deep Web.”

Meant to be their second album on Sony’s Epic label, they expressed disdain toward the label, posting inflammatory comments to their various social-networking accounts.

Executives supposedly planned on delaying the release of “No Love Deep Web” until 2013.

In response, Death Grips announced via Twitter and Facebook that the label would be “hearing the album for the first time with you.”

Hours later, “No Love Deep Web” was available for free download through several file-sharing websites.

According to www.billboard.biz, Death Grips are now the top legally-downloaded band on BitTorrent, with 34,151,432 downloads.

This all followed a massive online marketing campaign that, among other tasks, had message board users visiting a phone booth at 3 a.m., finding a USB containing unreleased material.

No, I’m not kidding.

With all the madness and viral marketing surrounding their latest release, it’s easy to forget that Death Grips make music.

The group’s sound draws influence from a number of musical styles.

While Zach Hill, the band’s drummer, is notable for his prolific work with punk acts, lyricist MC Ride comes from a rap background and Flatlander, the group’s third member, has focused his energy on electronic music.

This mixture of influences combines into an anarchic mess of energy as the trio simultaneously weaves and defies genres.

In comparison to their previous efforts – 2011’s “Exmilitary” and 2012’s “The Money Store” – “No Love Deep Web” is bare, opting for a skin and bones approach.

Juxtaposing their usual, elaborate production with minimalistic beats and synthesizers, Death Grips let the shouts of vocalist MC Ride take center stage.

With its lyrics, “No Love Deep Web” paints a vivid picture of paranoia, filling the listener with a certain discomfort normally reserved to lonely walks through rough neighborhoods.

While their previous albums were terrifying, the production of “No Love Deep Web” escalates the experience.

It seemed impossible, but Death Grips managed to make even scarier music.

“I got that feeling, zero feeling,” MC Ride boasts on “Hunger Games,” the album’s noisy eighth track.

While the lyricism is one of the album’s greatest strengths, it ends up simultaneously being one of its only weaknesses.

After three formal releases, the intensity of Death Grips’ subject matter and vocal delivery begins to feel a bit cheesy.

Consistency has been one of the band’s most admirable qualities, and while their lyrics have always had an oddly poetic vibe to them, “No Love Deep Web” offers a few lines that are absolutely cringe-worthy.

I love the track “World of Dogs,” but when MC Ride yells that he is dying and asks the listener to die with him, I feel like I’m reading his angst-ridden journal.

All of their releases deal with similar topics, but “No Love Deep Web” proves that they each come with their own definitive sounds.

The trio’s ever-changing style and willingness to experiment keep their abrasive music from growing trite or dull.

Although I love MC Ride’s growled lyrics I can’t help but miss the oddly danceable quality of this year’s “The Money Store.”

Certain songs off of “No Love Deep Web” have a similar appeal, offering synth lines that engulf the listener.

Tracks like “No Love” and “Lil Boy” both boast some of the most interesting choruses and beats that I’ve seen from Death Grips.

Overall, “No Love Deep Web” is enjoyable.

It offers a new direction and manages to keep you interested in their future endeavors.

With all the havoc Death Grips unleashed in 2012, I’m stoked for what they have planned for 2013.